Charter School Refusing To Let Parents Opt Out Of Controversial Class?

By Erika Hanson | Published

Georgia charter school

Interest in charter schools is growing for many families that are fed up with the public school system. This is often because they operate autonomously, meaning that they don’t have to follow public schools’ rules and regulations. But one Georgia charter school is making waves, as one advocacy group is now claiming that the school will not allow students to opt-out of a controversial SEL course program. 

Parents Defending Education, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep conservative parental beliefs alive and well in schools across the nation recently released a report claiming that a Georgia charter school will not allow students to opt-out of a mandatory SEL class next year. This accusation is controversial to many parents, as SEL is seen as a divisive concept in schools to some with claims that it is another way to weasel critical race theory into public education. 

SEL stands for social and emotional learning. On paper, it is a systematic approach to foster these skills within school curricula. While focusing on these types of skills has long been general practice in school to boost student well-being and academia, a new version of it, known as transformative SEL is causing dissent, as its goal is often cultivated in guiding students to examine the source of their inequities. The coalition bringing attention to this Georgia charter school says that the school follows this transformative SEL format. 

The Georgia charter school in question is Liberty Tech. The parents’ group received a copy of an email from the school’s guidance counselor to all staff members and parents making them aware that families could not opt-out of SEL during the 2022-2023 school year. This information changed from the school’s current policy, which allowed parents to opt their children out of the contentious course if they wished. However, the school’s principal spoke with The Daily Caller after this news broke. In doing so, she made them aware that the school is now considering reinstating the opt-out policy for families who wish to avoid SEL.

In enacting this new policy, the Georgia charter school will soon approve one of three SEL courses offered by education companies. The first one, which the school currently uses, is known as the Second Step Program. The parents’ group points out that the company’s site declares that they are “committed to addressing racial injustice” to back their claims that the framework is rooted in critical race theory ideologies. However, it should be noted that the coursework outline makes no note of equity or race whatsoever. 

If the Georgia charter school breaks away from its current SEL provider, they announced they will choose between CharacterStrong or Move This World. Like Second Step, CharacterStrong also issues a  “Commitment to Equity” statement on their site. Within this, they claim to promote equity by including diverse photos and videos in their lesson plans. How and why this is so controversial remains a question to many advocates of SEL. 

Georgia charter school

As for Move This World, the last of the three company’s the Georgia charter school will consider, the parents’ group also feels that they promote critical race theory, all because they recently released a blog post on how to use SEL practices to support equity in schools. But again, support for equity does not necessarily indicate the promotion of critical race theory in schools. But despite all this, parents are more concerned than ever that their children may be being taught divisive concepts furthering the disparity among races, and it’s enough to make them wish to keep their children from these learning techniques.